Launch of National Carers Week, Government House
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.
Good afternoon, all. Linda and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House.
National Carers Week and today’s launch are important events on our national calendar.
We must never EVER stop acknowledging, recognising and thanking the more than 2.6 million unpaid Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend.
They are outstanding Australians — compassionate, caring, kind, selfless and thoughtful people who help make our country the great place that it is. Their impact is profound — on the people they care for and on the communities around them.
This year in particular, carers have played a major role in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections by helping to keep vulnerable Australians safe.
In his book, ‘Australia Reimagined’, social researcher Hugh Mackay asks the reader ‘to consider the possibility that the clearest signs of the health of a society are to be found in the life of its local neighbourhoods and communities.’
If you were to agree with that position — and both Linda and I do as we see empirical evidence of it every day — then Australia’s unpaid carers are, without doubt, one cohort that contributes directly to the health of our society.
- There are more than 2.6 million of them, as I’ve already mentioned.
- That care would equate to billions of dollars if it were provided by a PAID workforce.
- Sixty per cent of all unpaid carers are female. That figure increases to 70 per cent for primary carers.
So, to everyone here today who is an unpaid carer, and to those unpaid carers watching online — thank you.
I also want to thank Carers Australia — the national peak body for carers — for its advocacy.
Carers Australia has achieved much since it was first launched as the Carers Association of Australia back in 1993.
- You helped create the first Parliamentary Friends of Carers Group in 2007.
- You advocated for and influenced the content of the Carer Recognition Act 2010.
- And, you were one of the first and strongest advocates for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
These are significant achievements.
I commend all members — past and present — of Carers Australia and its predecessor organisations for working collaboratively with stakeholders in the interests of carers.
This week’s National Carers Week provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the contributions of unpaid carers and for carers to tell us about why they do what they do.
Carers Australia is asking carers across the country to ‘Tell us why you care’ so that they can publish the experiences online and raise further awareness of unpaid carers.
Many of you might be feeling uneasy about this request, or perhaps not even identify as carers. I think I’m right in saying that you do what you do because it is part of your DNA and because it needs to be done. You’re not after any publicity or recognition.
But, in good faith, at least consider the request. It’s a great way for Carers Australia to provide a window into the realities of those who perform such valuable roles and to celebrate their outstanding contribution.
It’s an important story and it’s important that we hear it.
In closing, I want to thank all at Carers Australia for organising National Carers Week.
The biggest thank you, of course, goes to Australia’s unpaid carers. You are a godsend. I hope there are more occasions when our nation comes together to thank you for what you do.
It is now my great pleasure to launch National Carers Week for 2020.